Under a new proposed amendment to the Sudanese Nationality Act of 1994 the Sudanese government will withdraw Sudanese nationality from South Sudanese living in north Sudan unless they can prove residence since before 1924. That means to avoid statelessness South Sudanese will have to produce witnesses of 94 years old or older. A detailed account of the challenges facing Sudanese people with ties to South Sudan was published in our 7Dnews feature “Caught in Statelessness”.
Since 2011 Sudan has been split into two states, the Republic of Sudan, capital – Khartoum and the Republic of South Sudan, capital – Juba, following a divisive civil war. Now numbers of South Sudanese citizens living in the north risk losing their Sudanese nationality unless they can prove residence. The new bill has been approved by the Sudanese government and passed to parliament for review.
The Ministry of Interior announced in a press conference in March that the law will be amended so people of a South Sudanese father and a Sudanese mother can obtain Sudanese citizenship, enabling them to access health and education and enjoy citizen’s rights. The announcement was celebrated inside and outside Sudan by societies who had been working on statelessness and citizen’s rights. Joy was short-lived when copies of the bill were leaked. Human rights advocates fear that the law amendments will not help break the cycle of statelessness.